Houston not interested in "ghost guns" at buybacks

Sunlight streams between skyscrapers as the sun rises behind downtown Houston on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

All over the media, we keep hearing about how evil “ghost guns” are and how something must be done to address this growing problem.

Well, it seems the city of Houston has a plan. Its plan? Don’t bring them to buybacks.

When he heard of Houston’s gun buyback event Saturday, one Spring Branch man figured he could make some money.

He drove down to Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Third Ward with his guns in his trunk and, like hundreds of others, spent hours in a 2-mile line that stretched down Scott Street. An old pistol he was gifted and no longer had use for was taken when it was his turn to relinquish it, but his two privately assembled and untraceable handguns — commonly known as “ghost guns” — were turned away.

“(Staff) just said they didn’t want any more of these ghost guns,” said Chris Kelm, who manufactured two 3D-printed handguns at a cost of $5 each with the purpose of making a profit at the event. “They’re fully functional firearms with firing pins and everything else.”

The ghost guns, often cheap to make and accessible, became a contentious point for Mayor Sylvester Turner and One Safe Houston, his $53 million public safety initiative, after some were exchanged for gift cards.

At the next such event, likely held in the next couple of months near Alief, ghost guns won’t be accepted.

“It was not designed for people to manufacture those guns and come get a Visa gift card,” he said.

I certainly get what Turner is saying here. After all, we’ve all gotten a chuckle or 12 out of people cobbling together a few guns for almost no money and making a handsome profit off the buyback.

It’s absolutely hilarious when it happens.

On the other hand, I thought ghost guns were a profound menace to society. If that’s true, and if buybacks actually accomplish something – they don’t but work with me here – then why not accept them to get them off the streets?

The truth is that Turner has to face the facts.

Buybacks have never done much of anything positive for the community. Numerous studies have confirmed it. They’re nothing more than political theater, a way for officials to look like they are doing something about violent crime without having to actually do anything.

And I can’t help if Turner knows that, which is why he’s not blinking about banning so-called ghost guns at those events in his city. I figure it’s either that he knows buybacks don’t do anything or that he knows unserialized firearms aren’t nearly the issue many claim.

Either way, Turner knows something that he’s not exactly sharing with the rest of us.

Or maybe he’s just not inclined to think things through all the way based on his positions. As a politician, he wouldn’t be the first to do so.

Regardless, this is something for people who understand how idiotic buybacks are and how little of an issue “ghost guns” actually represent to get another good laugh at.